A Montgomery Village man was the victim of a phone scam in which a caller told him that his son and brother were being held hostage after an accident and would not be released unless he sent money to pay for the other person's vehicle, according to Montgomery County police.
The resident told the suspect he was calling police and ended the call, police said, and resident was able to verify that his brother was safe.
Montgomery County police have linked the incident to at least two others:
On Feb. 20, a Rockville resident received a call asking if she had a son. When she replied, “Yes”, the caller stated that her son was in a car accident and had been kidnapped. The suspect told the victim that her son would be killed unless the victim wired money. The suspect told the victim not to call police. The victim transferred money via wire transfer to Florida and Puerto Rico.
On Feb. 21, an Aspen Hill resident received a call that his brother had been shot. The resident did not believe the caller and began to ask probing questions. Police said the suspect hung up after realizing the resident did not believe the story.
Police said the suspect in all three incidents called from the same phone number. Investigators said though the calls appear to be from a local number, they originated from outside the country.
Police: Phone Scam Not New to Montgomery County
Police said these scams are not new to Montgomery County and have been reported nearby. In November, police received reports in Friendship Heights of scammers posing as victims’ grandchildren.
Generally speaking, the scammer tells the victim that a family member or friend of the victim is in trouble or needs help. He or she asks leading questions in order to retrieve personal information, creating a sense of urgency. To assist in helping the family or friend, the scammer tells the victim to send money.
Through a method known as “spoofing,” a fake local-looking number will appear on the caller ID.
Police are urging residents not to give out information over the phone, to verify the caller’s story by taking with family or friends, and not to send money.